Originally Posted by Lord-Barrington
The big difference between the elites and everywhere else is that kids who are accepted there, besides being smart, almost always have a plan. That translates to smarter career choices during school (i.e. internships) smarter choices upon graduation, and smarter choices afterwards as well.
I am not so sure that I would give so much credit to the top school attendees. Not that I disagree with you totally, but there's more to the game than just being smart, hardworking, and having a plan.
The right degree can absolutely kick open doors that would otherwise be shut, even to some of the less-qualified students at these schools. I didn't attend the very best schools, by any means, but definitely "top 10" in both undergraduate and graduate. And you'd really be surprised at how many mediocre students, including myself, have received opportunities that they would not have otherwise.
And seriously, while these "mediocre" kids are definitely still on the very bright side of the larger spectrum, it in no way implies that they "would have kicked the competition's ass had they gone to a lesser school".
Of course, rising to the top of the world takes more than a degree--but sometimes, the typical very smart and very hardworking kid often isn't even aware of some of the opportunities out there, and while not having these opportunities might not prevent an otherwise bright/hardworking kid from rising to the top, having those opportunities make it a heck lot easier.